Rwanda butchery eclipses ceasefire

AS A fine-sounding ceasefire between the warring parties in Rwanda was agreed at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) meeting in Tunis yesterday, confirmation of fresh butchery in Kigali was announced by the United Nations.

France announced that it was willing to send troops to Rwanda if the ceasefire agreed earlier in the day did not hold.

According to Major Jean-Guy Plante, the UN military spokesman in the Rwandan capital, 60 boys had been abducted from the Ste Famille church complex and killed in a government-held part of the city.

He said he had spoken to people who had escaped and who saw a total of 60 boys, 20 more than previously reported, taken away and killed. They were Tutsi boys abducted by a Hutu militia. 'There is a big hole there where a lot of massacres have taken place.'

Alain Juppe, the French Foreign Minister, said France 'along with its main European and African partners, is prepared to launch a ground intervention to protect groups threatened with extinction'. He said intervention, which had been discussed with President Francois Mitterrand, could happen 'relatively soon if we learn of new massacres in coming days'. A Foreign Office spokesman in London said military action was a matter for discussion within the UN.

The massacre of the children is one more in a pogrom that has continued almost unabated for 70 days. In a recent report, the monitoring body, Human Rights Watch Africa, says that between 200,000 and 500,000 people have died since 6 April. It has documented 10 separate massacres, many of them in churches where the victims, mostly Tutsis, had fled for sanctuary:

Kibungo: 2,800 people killed in a church centre by Hutu extremist militias using rockets, machine- guns and machetes

Cyahinda: 5,400 killed in a church

Kibeho: 4,000 people killed in a church

Mibirizi: 2000 killed

Shangi: 4,000 killed

Rukara: 500 killed in a church

Kigali and Butare: hundreds killed in hospital beds

Butare orphanage: 21 orphans and 13 Rwandan Red Cross workers killed

Gikongoro: 88 children killed

Meanwhile, the battle for the capital was reported to be continuing as artillery and mortar shells fell on buildings near the centre of the town. 'They're still making a lot of noise . . . It sure doesn't sound like a ceasefire,' said Major Plante. The small UN force of 450 in Kigali, still waiting for reinforcements, was forced to stop its evacuation of Tutsis and other vulnerable groups from areas still held by Hutu government militias in the capital. After UN troops evacuated 400 on Monday from the Ste Famille church, militias blocked their access and the 60 boys were abducted hours later.

In Tunis, the OAU meeting ended with a cautious hope that the ceasefire might be implemented. 'The summit is telling the parties in the conflict as powerfully as it can and as strongly as it can that enough is enough,' said Salim Salim, the OAU Secretary- General, but he added that there were no signatures on a ceasefire agreement yet.

BUJUMBURA - Hundreds of refugees have flooded into Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, following an army crackdown on armed civilians and reports of massacres near the border with Rwanda, say aid workers, Reuter reports.

(Photograph omitted)